Making new friends during postsecondary studies can be challenging. Students encounter numerous problems every day, including trying to form connections in a large classroom setting or taking the initiative to make the first approach. Some feel anxious about how to move a conversation forward, and others struggle to find their own social groups that share the same interests and goals.
Visual Design, Prototyping, User Testing, Motion Graphics
Figma, Illustrator, Camtasia, Premiere Pro, After Effects
Jan — Mar 2020
How might we simplify the process of making new friends for postsecondary students and encourage them to reach out?
Befriend is a social application that aims to combat one of the biggest challenges in making new friends—reaching out. Geared specifically for on-campus use, students can get to know other classmates through their profiles, request seating or study partners, and easily engage in conversations.
The Befriend marketing video promotes the app to students and other stakeholders, enticing them to download it. It clearly captures Befriend's key features.
Fostering friendship in a healthy environment
Befriend is geared towards students of all diversities and backgrounds. With the option to accept or decline requests, students can openly choose who they feel comfortable with connecting. User profiles are focused on personality and interests rather than superficial factors or glamorous photos, working to form connections that are truly meaningful.
The Befriend onboarding process helps you setup your initial search preferences and start using the app with ease. This includes a friendly tutorial and preliminary room size selection, as Befriend uses geolocation services to scan for user profiles nearby.
Fill in your own user profile with current interests and basic information, as well as answer profile prompts to help spark conversation. Browse other user profiles through various search filters, such as educational institution or program and year of study.
When you're ready to connect with another classmate, you can send a request for them to sit with you, study together or start a conversation. Alternatively, you can comment on one of their profile prompts to spark conversation. Reach out and take action!
Finding topics to start a conversation can be difficult. Befriend makes it easy by providing fill-in-the-blank icebreakers that are great for a first chat.
THE DESIGN PROCESS
Framing The Problem
I remember being anxious about making new friends back in my first year of postsecondary. Many postsecondary students shared these same sentiments, and so I wanted to develop an app that could easily connect students within their classes.
After successfully pitching this idea to my user-centered design class, I led and collaborated with two other designers to bring this app to life.
Understanding The User
The first phase of this project consisted of a deep dive into user research. As a team, we started with a PACT analysis to place our target users into context. We then conducted user interviews with 5 undergraduate students. Our goal was to get a better understanding of how students establish connections with others, and some of the frustrations they might experience when trying to make new friends.
Priority Feature Requirements
Profile prompts that encourage students to get to know each other
Action button for students to send out various requests
Distance filter that restricts how much of the room is scanned
Conversation starters as a chat function to help break the ice
Recommending friends to other friends to widen mutual circles
We created user personas to truly understand our target users, their frustrations and pain points, and how the Befriend app could fit into their lives.
Wireframing & Journey Mapping
We started with creating wireframes, and then used them to map out user scenarios. After conducting visual research to decide our creative direction, we were able to design at high-fidelity. We finished off by prototyping the interactions in Figma.
Moving into user testing, we conducted in-lab usability tests with 3 users of varying ages and backgrounds. While reading them each user scenario, we encouraged the users to think aloud as they worked their way through the prototype.
📌 User testing helped us understand how our users approached challenges, and how we could improve the experience based on the issues they faced.
This project gave me the opportunity to collaborate in a team setting from start to finish. It taught me the importance of focusing on the bigger picture, making consistent progress together, and finding ways to best utilize each of our strengths. I also realized the value of conducting interviews and user testing, as it was extremely useful towards the development of our app features.
Overall, it was interesting getting the chance to explore and understand all kinds of student experiences within a social context. We worked hard as a team to craft an engaging user experience, and I personally really enjoyed the entire process!
If I were to revisit this project, I would work on further developing certain details to be more intuitive, such as the room filter icon, toast notifications and conversation prompts. I also think it would be interesting to explore micro-interactions, which would improve the feedback for users and allow for more dynamic app gestures.
After analyzing our findings from the user testing sessions, these are some of the critical app revisions we proposed.
The style guide outlines how the brand should be applied. Befriend’s identity mark comprises of a word mark set in Muli Bold together with an abstract symbol. The brand colour palette consists of orange for primary usage, blue or red for secondary usage, and black and white for text.